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Petitioning Secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture Tom Vilsack

11 Ways We Want to Reform the U.S. Dietary Guidelines

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans have, for 35 years, been the principal policy guiding diet in the United States—with the goal of helping Americans reach a healthy weight and prevent chronic disease.

Yet the Guidelines have clearly failed to achieve these goals. In fact, since the introduction of the Guidelines in 1980, there has been a sharp increase in nutrition-related diseases, particularly obesity and diabetes. In this time, childhood obesity and diabetes diagnoses have quadrupled.

This failure is due to the fact that, in many cases, the Guidelines have been shown not to be based on the best and most current science.

The need for change is great.


The following are the 11 evidence-based FACTS... for CHANGE.

1. On low-fat diets

Given that: Most people, including a majority of health-care professionals, still believe that the Dietary Guidelines continue to recommend a low-fat diet,

Therefore: The Guidelines must clearly communicate to the public and health-care professionals everywhere that the low-fat diet is no longer recommended and that this diet can worsen heart-disease risk factors.

2. On saturated fat

Given that: There are now 14 meta-analyses and systematic reviews of the scientific literature which conclude either that saturated fats are not associated with heart disease or that saturated fats have no effect on cardiovascular mortality, and given also that the 2015 Dietary Guidelines expert committee did not comprehensively review this literature,

Therefore: Caps on saturated fats should be lifted or eased. Saturated fats are part of many real, natural foods; and public health authorities should re-educate doctors and the public not to fear these foods, along with their natural fats.

3. On low carbohydrate diets

Given that: Expert committees for recent iterations of the Guidelines have never considered the large body of research on low-carbohydrate diets, which now amounts to more than 70 clinical trials on altogether thousands of people, including several trials of 2-years, (considered long enough to reveal any side effects); and given also that these trials, taken together, demonstrate the safety and efficacy of low-carb diets for combatting obesity, diabetes, and heart disease,

Therefore: The Guidelines should promote low-carb diets as one safe and effective intervention for people struggling with obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

4. On dietary diversity

Given that: The current Guidelines are still a one-size-fits-all diet, which is not appropriate for a general population in which nutritional needs vary by age, genetics, gender, race, metabolic health, and other factors,

Therefore: The Guidelines must offer a true range of diets that respond to the diverse nutritional needs of the population.

5. On nutritional sufficiency

Given that: The current Guidelines are nutritionally insufficient and advise the public to obtain many key nutrients from artificially fortified refined grains,

Therefore: The Guidelines should be nutritionally sufficient, and those nutrients should come from real foods, not from artificially fortified refined grains.

6. On exercise and weight loss

Given that: An expert review by the U.S. government concluded that aerobic exercise, while beneficial in some ways, is ineffective for weight loss,

Therefore: The Guidelines should stop recommending aerobic exercise for weight control.

7. On salt

Given That: Three papers in major journals as well as an 2013 Institute of Medicine report all concluded that, in addition to an upper limit on sodium consumption (possibly only for a hypertensive population), there is also a lower limit, below which increased risk of cardiovascular death is seen; and given that the current Guidelines do not incorporate this science but instead continue with a “lower is better” recommendation,

Therefore: The Guidelines should recognize the controversy on salt and cease its blanket "lower is better” recommendation.

8. On calories

Given That: The calorie-in-calorie-out model of obesity -- which asserts that people get fat because they eat too much and exercise too little -- oversimplifies the issue; rather, the body’s fat stores are also powerfully regulated by a number of other factors, including sleep, stress, hormones, genetics, and the type of calories consumed.

Therefore: The Guidelines should stop using any language suggesting that sustainable weight control can be managed by creating a caloric deficit. This advice, in addition to being wrong, unfairly blames people for their own struggles with weight.

9. On vegetable oils

Given That: Polyunsaturated vegetable oils, when replacing saturated fats in many large controlled clinical trials, have not been shown to reduce cardiovascular mortality and also cause worrying increases in cancer,

Therefore: The Guidelines should cease its advice to replace saturated fats with polyunsaturated vegetable oils to prevent cardiovascular disease.

10. On lean meat and low-fat dairy

Given That: A considerable body of clinical trial and observational data demonstrates that full-fat regular dairy leads to better health outcomes, compared to low- or non-fat dairy and that, similarly, there is no evidence to support the assertion that “lean meat” is healthier than regular meat; and further, that there are no clinical trials to support the advice that eating red meat is bad for health,

Therefore: The Guidelines should stop steering people away from nutritious whole foods, such as whole-fat dairy and regular red meat.

11. On evidence for the guidelines

Given That: Experts developing the Guidelines have in some cases ignored relevant clinical trial data or improperly prioritized observational findings over the more rigorous trial data.

Therefore: The Guidelines should be based on a complete, comprehensive review of the most rigorous (randomized, controlled clinical trial) data available, and on subjects for which this more rigorous data is not available, the Guidelines should remain silent.

Please sign if you AGREE with these 11 points for reforming the Guidelines. Change takes many hands. Add yours!


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